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What do you think about my method?


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ian.harris1

I have begun watching shows in Mandarin. Nothing complicated, and I realize I don't understand much. I've only been watching with Chinese subtitles with little pausing. Just trying to focus on how the sounds correspond with the characters and watching the visible aspects for context. Maybe I look up something that I've identified that comes up frequently but I usually do that after the show. What do you think about this approach?

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ian.harris1

Comprehensible input is what you're talking about, but what does one do when they are not at a level where native content is not available and they don't want to watch a mundane kids shows?

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Jan Finster
On 6/12/2021 at 12:15 PM, ian.harris1 said:

I have begun watching shows in Mandarin. Nothing complicated, and I realize I don't understand much. I've only been watching with Chinese subtitles with little pausing. Just trying to focus on how the sounds correspond with the characters and watching the visible aspects for context. Maybe I look up something that I've identified that comes up frequently but I usually do that after the show. What do you think about this approach?

 

I did this after only 3 months of studying Chinese. Looking back I realized it is a form of procrastination. What you will learn is minimal compared what you could learn in the same time if you studied with a textbook, a teacher, with ChinesePod or TheChairMansBao.

 

1 hour ago, ian.harris1 said:

at a level where native content is not available and they don't want to watch a mundane kids shows?

 

I would not watch kids shows either. Boring!

Honestly, at this stage, learning by watching movies or TV shows is not realistic.

I suggest, Youtube channels for Chinese learners, ChinesePod or TheChairMansBao.

 

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roddy

Kid's shows boring? Ha. I still remember the excitement of watching Dogtanian leap out of a window to his certain death, only to land safely on his trusty horse and exclaim, in one of the first Chinese utterances I ever understood: "我的马!"

 

Or something like that, it was ages ago.

 

It does sound like the graded content suggested by Jan might suit.

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amytheorangutan

I agree with @Jan Finster I have always watch a lot of Chinese and K drama since I was young so it continues on when I started learning Chinese but honestly when I don’t understand 75% of the dialogues, my input of new words and the chances of me remembering those words afterwards are pretty low. I think we have to start with materials intended for learners first to get us there, things like Chinesepod and podcasts intended for learners. Chinesepod especially the Upper Intermediate lessons where most of the explanations are done in Chinese will help you get there.

 

I grew up watching quite a lot of Japanese kids shows so I watch those shows that are dubbed in Chinese but I understand that if you don’t have that nostalgic feeling it might be boring. I watch things like 櫻桃小丸子 and 哆啦A梦 etc

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Lu
3 hours ago, Jan Finster said:

I did this after only 3 months of studying Chinese. Looking back I realized it is a form of procrastination.

True words!

 

Of course tv shows and movies can be useful, but as supplementary material, as a way to get engaged with Chinese culture and as a way to enjoy what you're learning. I'd recommend watching with subtitles until you don't need them anymore. You will still pick up lines here and there*, and if you want to pick over something more closely you can skip back a bit until you understand. You'll get a lot of input, more sense of how people talk and how different people talk, and it's fun. But don't do it instead of more efficient ways of actually studying.

 

* My first one was 玫瑰露 in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and my classmate and I, sitting in the cinema together, turned to each other with a big smile: we know this one!

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NinKenDo

I think that's great provided it's not the only thing you're doing. If you work to increase your vocabulary and grammar knowledge, and drill some sentences and/or intensive reading and listening along with that, I think it's a powerful tool. It's also very rewarding to see your progress in something that you're not explicitly studying, I use music and the News to get that feeling myself.

 

So I think it's great to do. You can increase its efficiency and enjoyability though by also doing more intensive, deliberate study at other times, so I encourage you to work that in.

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alantin
13 hours ago, ian.harris1 said:

Comprehensible input is what you're talking about, but what does one do when they are not at a level where native content is not available and they don't want to watch a mundane kids shows?

 

You could start with YoYo Chinese. The approach is quite comprehensible input. I'd also recommend finding a tutor for example on iTalki and have them talk to you in Chinese as much as possible. Also learn the pronunciation and the tones first or you'll have a lot of problems with them later on.

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tsitsi

I'm going to disagree with those who say you cannot learn a language through drama/film, or use it as your main input.

 

Look up inductive vs systematic/ deductive ways of learning a language. Everyone has their own method and way that suits them, be it because of temperament or that's all they have been taught. Inductive ways, such as learning from film require a lot more verbal skills and analysing of language as it happens. If you've ever been around a baby between  one and two you can observe them do this; they watch your mouth when you say something, try to repeat words and wait to see what happens. As an adult you would have to simulate this as you watch your film. Not saying you can learn as a child does, then again why not, depends on you really. An immersive approach does not need comprehensible input. It does need special learning efforts to not make what you are hearing 'static/ noise'. When your brain does not understand stuff and deems it unimportant it shuts down trying to decode it, you need to trick your brain into constantly trying to figure out what it hears and reward it so the learning continues.

 

I remember a case study in one of my classes where a child learnt French solely through film, the family moved to France, dad got work there, mother was working part time from home, did not speak french, TV was in French, kid spent tonnes of time in front of the telly and got conversational. Granted you are not going to be putting in these hours, and your input is 'harder' but it's possible.

Also read study on why Scandinavian kids spoke a lot more English than German ones, turns out cultural immersion via TV and YouTube plays a big part, in Germany all shows are dubbed... in Scandinavian countries only subtitles, as a result they speak and converse faster and with seemingly American accents.

 

Would you learn by passively watching for enjoyment? No. A few words for sure, and you would get an ear for the language's rhythm and nuances, (which some people never get with hours in class). You would have to slow it down, repeat back, watch and see what is what from context, make inferences so your brain begins to notice patterns. You could possibly find a short series you love and wont mind watching over and over again, then watch it first for enjoyment, then watch it again, this time take note of particular words and phrases that are common and begin to repeat them. Third time do so again add more to your phrases and sentences. After a few rounds, remove the subtitles and see if you still get it. When bored move on to the next film, note, where possible, what was transferred from the previous film and then go on. Rinse and repeat. You could even use Chinese subtitles and begin noticing what characters are used with which sounds/words and begin decoding the language in reverse to give your brain new gymnastics :)

 

Is it fast...? No. But it can be fun, motivating or a great experiment to run. (Mmmm I may just do it for Korean then.) The tricky part is to find ways to keep your brain fully engaged, to figure out patterns, and to use active recall of the language learnt, and voila, Bob's your uncle.

 

I say the method that you will enjoy is one you will learn from and the one you learn from you will enjoy.

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Lu

Note that children take years to get to a halfway decent level, and they are constantly surrounded by people who lovingly practice with them for hours every day. As to your examples, Swedish and German children learn English in school, the English they hear on tv (subtitled in Swedish, in Sweden) is just additional input. The kid in France was probably not only watching tv but also going to school, where he interacted with the teacher and children their own age. So yes, watching tv and series is a good way to reinforce things you have learned and occasionally pick up new things, but as a main method of learning it's hugely inefficient. Is it possible? Sure, probably. Is it a good idea? No. Get a teacher, a textbook, a language partner, some time in-country, pick some of the tried & true learning methods.

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Jan Finster
10 hours ago, tsitsi said:

remember a case study in one of my classes where a child learnt French solely through film, the family moved to France, dad got work there, mother was working part time from home, did not speak french, TV was in French, kid spent tonnes of time in front of the telly and got conversational. Granted you are not going to be putting in these hours, and your input is 'harder' but it's possible.

Also read study on why Scandinavian kids spoke a lot more English than German ones, turns out cultural immersion via TV and YouTube plays a big part, in Germany all shows are dubbed... in Scandinavian countries only subtitles, as a result they speak and converse faster and with seemingly American accents.

 

Yes, Scandinavian and Dutch children learn English mostly through non-dubbed TV, but I do not think you can realistically replicate this as an adult. Please bear in mind, it takes them many, many years to learn English and the average children have a better brain and more time available.  My niece literally watched the same Youtube clip with a children's song at least 50 times ("Jan, let us watch it again...". Ooookay...🙈😅). She was mesmerized. When I was a teenager, I could watch "Enter the Dragon" 10 times in 3 weeks. No problem. Now, I can no longer subject myself to this. I believe, there is no adult, who would watch a Chinese TV show episode 50 times... 

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Lu
26 minutes ago, Jan Finster said:

Yes, Scandinavian and Dutch children learn English mostly through non-dubbed TV

I'm Dutch and no we don't. We learn it in school, tv is additional material. I'm sure it helps and I absolutely recommend anyone studying a language to watch tv in that language, but one doesn't learn a language just from tv.

 

Also, Chinese is a lot more different from European languages than English is. Watching an English show (or Swedish, or Spanish, or Polish) one can pick up a halfway familiar word here and there and the grammar is not completely alien. For Chinese, this won't work.

 

ETA: We had a forum member a few years ago who tried learning Chinese just from films, as an experiment. Here is his thread. As I recall, his conclusion was that it was not a good idea to try learning just from films, though it was certainly useful additional material.

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tsitsi
7 hours ago, Lu said:

I'm Dutch and no we don't. We learn it in school, tv is additional material. I'm sure it helps and I absolutely recommend anyone studying a language to watch tv in that language, but one doesn't learn a language just from tv.

Yes, exactly what I said -> cultural immersion plays a big part in the level they have which is higher; and that's in comparison with other kids who also learn the language but don't have the same cultural immersion from visual/audio media.

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alantin

If I remember correctly, Yeon-mi Park by her own account used Chinese TV as her main material learning Chinese after defecting from North Korea. Granted, she lived in China with relatives who spoke Mandarin, but in her situation she could not interact freely with other people apart from those relatives due to the risk of being exposed due to her accent or lack of language skills.

 

It is an interesting story but I don't know how much to believe the part that she learned Chinese to a level where she could pass as a Chinese native mainly from TV. She must have quite soon had some other exposure too, practice with the family members, listen to them talk with each other or have them talk to her only in Chinese, etc.

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